Liberia Breaks Soviet Ties in Theft of Military Secrets

Associated Press

Liberia severed diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union today after arresting students who allegedly gave military secrets to Soviet diplomats here.

The government recalled its officials from Moscow and gave Soviet diplomats 72 hours to leave the West African nation, the Foreign Ministry announced.

It accused the Soviets of "a serious breach of the principles governing international relations" and called the alleged transfer of classified information a "gross interference in the internal affairs of Liberia which cannot be condoned."

The action by the Liberian government followed the arrest Wednesday night of 14 students who had visited the Soviet Embassy and "were involved in passing on to the Soviets classified information on various military installations in Liberia and the defense capabilities of the military," the Foreign Ministry statement said.

Some of the documents have been retrieved from the students and are in the hands of security forces, it said.

Liberia, founded in the 19th Century by freed American slaves returning to Africa, has traditionally been closely aligned with the United States.

Its civilian government was overthrown in a bloody coup in 1980, and its president, Gen. Samuel K. Doe, is committed to a presidential election later this year.

In 1973 Liberia expelled the Soviet ambassador, accusing him of interfering in Liberian internal affairs. The Soviets retaliated by ousting the Liberian ambassador.

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